MARY’S DAIRY DIARY - NOVEMBER 2011
Such warm weather so late makes the cold weather seem colder when it comes. The autumn colour seems less bright, too - the leaves have just faded on the trees, rather than go through those startling colours. The fallow deer started their rut later - so are still roaring this month. It’s such hard work for the bucks, they seemed to delay, or maybe it was the does deciding they were hot and bothered not just hot. It won’t change the time they kid, as the does store the semen until it’s time to implant - how do they do that? I’ve heard they can even choose whether they produce males or females, depending on what the herd needs.
CROPS - The crops went in well in the warm weather, enough warmth and wet to get them started, new life peeping through the soil giving that beautiful shot silk appearance. On a tractor, you get to see the far corners of fields - when you walk you never go right to each bit of every field, the wet bits, the stony bits, the little twists in the hedge. That reminds me, I must go and pick some hips and haws for my favourite hips, haws and rose petal tea, a pretty pink and the best tasting of all the herb teas (put a few frozen ones in a tea pot, very refreshing).
We lost a lot of crop to the deer, particularly in the last weeks before harvest, when they went round munching ears. We are making a concerted effort to reduce numbers and damage. This year for the first time for a bit, we’ve drilled some oilseed rape. Deer love it but it is very rich for them and makes them put on fat and also become loose. In the winter it can become a magnet for them - they just made tracks up steep banks and through hedges as if they didn’t exist.
COWS - Lots of lovely grass after the dry early autumn, when grass got tight. It means that the grass plants are growing up fresh from the base, lots of lush green leaves. Given a fair wind, we hope to graze cows right into next month, to keep it a nice short winter. It’s lovely to see the cows out, a brave sight to see them all grazing, black and white and red all together. We have the spring cows milking once a day, as they give less milk, their calves are growing visibly in their bellies, as they get into late pregnancy. It’s easier on them to walk to the parlour just once a day, and less cows for us to milk each day.
The autumn cows are being served. We’ve had some fabulous fertility from the spring herd - well over eight tenths in calf, when it can be only half on higher yielding systems. I hope I haven’t spoken too soon - we watch for heat, serve and then wait for 21 days to see if they come into heat again. They’ve been very frisky in the run up, so it looks like the hormones are all in good working order, a good sign.
CALVES - are so pretty and playful. They come in before the bad weather hits, but it’s been lovely to have them out so long. We have been bringing them milk in a little trailer, a mobile milk bar. They got very excited when the slurry tanker went by, chased along the hedge to try and catch up with it - little tanker, some milk, big tanker, must be lots of milk. When it went back loaded with slurry, they chased it back the other way.
CHEESE - we’ve won a record number of prizes this year, so I privately felt we’d got somewhere, knew how to play this game. Then we started producing a day or two of very soft cheese - we’d balanced the lush grass , which we thought was low fibre, with the stalky silage made from nearly ripe wheat. Not sensible - too much fibre, makes too much fat, makes too soft a cheese. It will be interesting to taste - very buttery, but it will be quite soft. Then we realized we had a few sharper flavours because one store was running a degree warm, which had crept up on us. Just a reminder that if you think you’ve got somewhere, I find that is always the clue that you are about to make a mistake. We have got customers who want that more forward flavoured cheese, but for the most part, I am aiming for that lovely description of cheddar cheese ‘like a hazelnut’ in Joseph Harding’s words.
We’ve now come through the time when we had very light rinds, almost invisible because we had larded them and put an extra cloth on to protect them from the mite, which we then got under control, so they weren’t there to eat away the excess protection. Now we have sensible but not excessively heavy rind, giving some very lovely looking cheese and some lovely flavours - early autumn from last year, a classic time, now ripe, and worth waiting for.
RECIPE - This recipe comes from Ian Nottage of Reynolds Catering Supplies Ltd who brought a group of chefs to the farm in the spring for a study trip. Pork tenderloin wrapped in cabbage and bacon with pearled spelt, Quickes' cheddar and fresh pea risotto (serves four)
Place the Savoy cabbage outer leaves into boiling water and cook for 45 seconds before removing and placing in chilled water. Once chilled, remove and squeeze out the excess water then pat dry with paper towel.Line cling film with bacon or pancetta, ensuring that each piece overlaps each other and that there are no gaps. Layer the bacon to the same length as the tenderloin.
Wrap the trimmed tenderloin with the cooked cabbage, then place the cabbage-wrapped tenderloin onto the bacon-lined cling film. Wrap the bacon around the tenderloin tightly using the cling film. Once tight, tie the ends of the cling film to secure. To retain a better cylindrical shape use foil in addition to the cling film, twisting the ends of the foil to tighten, and leave in the fridge until required.
To prepare the spelt risotto, place the chicken stock in a pan over a high heat. In another pan, sweat off the olive oil, shallot and garlic over a medium heat until translucent, then add the pearled spelt and simmer for five minutes before adding the apple juice.
When all of the apple juice has been absorbed, start to add the chicken stock one ladle at a time until all of the stock has been absorbed and the spelt is just tender. Stir in the cheese, butter, blanched peas and seasoning before serving.
To cook the tenderloin, preheat an oven to 200°C. Place the tenderloin in non-stick pan over a medium heat and brown off the bacon on all sides. When evenly browned, transfer to a preheated oven and cook for twelve minutes, then rest for two minutes before slicing.
For the garnish, preheat the oil in a fryer to 180°C and place the finely shredded Savoy cabbage leaves into the hot oil. Fry for one minute before transferring to a paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Sprinkle sea salt over the crispy cabbage.
To serve, spoon equal amounts of the pearled spelt risotto into four shallow bowls and place two to three slices of the pork tenderloin on top; finish with the crispy cabbage.